Only in Florida can you pick strawberries in December, and of course we capitalized on that opportunity. We headed up to Farmer Mike’s U-Pick farm in Bonita Springs, Florida with Mumsy and Gramps to wander the fields and pick some strawberries with the goal of making jam. Even though I had read a few reviews online that the strawberries were really picked over, we decided to check it out anyway and knew we would be able to get some great fruit at the farmer’s market if we could not find many berries in the fields.
We arrived at the farm around 10 AM, which is pretty good for us, and we were happy to find the parking lot relatively empty. We stopped by the farmer’s market to get our buckets, then headed out into the fields. Strawberries are one of Bird’s favorite fruits, so we were excited to see how she would react. Much to our surprise, she did not snack her way through the fields, but instead clutched a strawberry in each hand and had so much fun walking up and down the raised rows of plants.
When we got into the fields, we found the strawberries not so much picked over but just on the edge of ripe. There were plenty of strawberries growing, it was just a challenge to find the ones worthy of picking. We are always up for a challenge and persisted up and down the rows until we filled our buckets. We knew we would be able to buy additional quarts of strawberries in the farmer’s market, and we found them to be at the same level of ripeness of what we found in the fields, so that made us feel a little better about our harvest.
In addition to strawberries, the farm had other options available for the picking, including sunflowers, other types of flowers, and tomatoes. We did not pick anything else, but we did wander through the different fields of flowers, which were really beautiful (though the sunflowers were nearing the end of their run). By the time we returned to the parking lot, the place had gotten a lot busier, so we were all glad we got there early.
Famer Mike’s farm had a lot of other activities for kids, including slides, hay bales for climbing, and a bounce house, and while we knew Bird might enjoy some of these things, we will save that for another (non-pandemic) visit. It is definitely a family-friendly place to visit, and I would happily return the next time we are in the area.
The strawberries we picked were absolutely delicious and did ripen up slightly after they were picked. They were sweet and juicy, and Will made the BEST jam. Even in small spaces, he was excited to tackle a project like making jam, and it worked out great.
I just love that we continue to encounter opportunities to take Bird to see where her favorite fruits come from and then to turn them into jam or sauce or something delicious that we can continue to enjoy months after the initial picking. Now that we have strawberries, blueberries, apples, and pumpkins under our belt, I cannot wait to see what we find next!
**Be sure to check out our video from our day at the farm on YouTube.**